The Bordelons and Ronald Lewis: Mardi Gras Update Steve Inskeep checks in with some New Orleans residents with whom he has been in touch since Hurricane Katrina hit. The Bordelon family lives in St. Bernard Parish. Ronald Lewis is the president of a Ninth Ward social club.
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The Bordelons and Ronald Lewis: Mardi Gras Update

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The Bordelons and Ronald Lewis: Mardi Gras Update

The Bordelons and Ronald Lewis: Mardi Gras Update

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Next we'll check in with people who spent the week of Mardi Gras rebuilding around New Orleans. Colleen and Donald Bordelon stayed in their home even when it was flooded. They've been rebuilding ever since and every so often they tell us how they're doing.

Mr. DONALD BORDELON (Katrina Survivor): No, they ain't gonna tear my house down, believe me. But my house right now, I could put some paint in it and some sheet rock and some paint on it and some new doors and, you know, make it really look nice again. You know?

INSKEEP: We have called Donald and Colleen Bordelon once again at the end of this week that included Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans.

Donald and Colleen, welcome again.

Ms. COLLEEN BORDELON (Katrina Survivor): Thank you.

Mr. BORDELON: Hey, good morning.

INSKEEP: So how did you guys spend your Mardi Gras?

Mr. BORDELON: Oh, man, we stayed home and worked on our house a little bit. Just about a week before Mardi Gras, they had a beautiful parade down here in St. Bernard Parish, man. And it was like a good day of partying and of having fun with your friends and everything else, you know?

INSKEEP: So that's what you did a few days before Fat Tuesday. Colleen, what did you do on the day?

Ms. BORDELON: Oh, we turned on the TV and, you know, watched the Zulu Parade and everything. We usually sit in front of the TV and eat our peanuts and our chicken wings and stuff. But you know, this year, in between, we cleaned house.

INSKEEP: I want to just mention, you're in St. Bernard Parish, which is just a little bit east of New Orleans. And I want to bring another voice into this conversation from a short distance away from you, in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. Ronald Lewis(ph) is another person we've spoken to from time to time.

And this is what Mr. Lewis said when we spoke to him in October.

Mr. RONALD LEWIS (Resident, Lower 9th Ward): The Mardi Gras Indian and Associated Pleasure Club(ph) is a true black history here in New Orleans. I'm not leaving my home. This is home. The only way I won't be here is I'm forced out of here.

INSKEEP: When Ronald Lewis mentioned Mardi Gras Indians, he was talking about black social clubs that play a major role in parades at Mardi Gras and other times of the year in New Orleans.

Mr. Lewis, good to talk to you again.

Mr. LEWIS: Good morning.

INSKEEP: So how did you spend your Mardi Gras?

Mr. LEWIS: It was the, like, I came in Thursday before Mardi Gras to see people who I hadn't seen since Katrina.

INSKEEP: We should mention that you are still living well outside of New Orleans. Your home is not livable. But you're saying you came in several days before Fat Tuesday.

Mr. LEWIS: Yes, preparing for the Mardi Gras day. People came in costume, which I was in costume, what we call a skeleton. And I had a good time interacting with the people. And I seen this lady had on a costume and on the headdress, it said Arabi. So I walked up to her and asked her was she from the parish and she told me yeah. And we talked.

INSKEEP: Now hold on. You ran into a woman from Arabi, which is in St. Bernard Parish.

Mr. LEWIS: Yeah.

INSKEEP: Made that connection. Now we can make another connection here, because Donald and Colleen Bordelon are still on the line.

Mr. LEWIS: Good.

Mr. BORDELON: How you doing, man?

Mr. LEWIS: Good, man.

Ms. BORDELON: Hello?

Mr. BORDELON: You know who I'm looking for, man?

Mr. LEWIS: Yeah.

Ms. BORDELON: Samuel?

Mr. BORDELON: I'm looking for Samuel, man, remember Samuel?

Mr. LEWIS: I probably know him, but most people, we just go by our last name, you know.

Mr. BORDELON: Yeah, he's a good friend of mine, man.

Mr. LEWIS: Yeah.

Mr. BORDELON: He lives in the same ward, man, on the corner of Delia(ph) and Judge Perez(ph), man.

Mr. LEWIS: Oh, okay. Yeah, I know right where you're talking about.


INSKEEP: Now, let me see if there might be an opportunity to pass on some information here, Ronald, 'cause I know you're just getting started on the clean-up process. I think the Bordelons might be a little further along and I wonder if you might have any questions about your next step for them.

Mr. LEWIS: Yeah, 'cause there's something that I have never done since watching my parents do it as a child in Hurricane Bessie, so any information that's available, I'm very open to it.

Mr. BORDELON: Yeah, man, all I can tell you, buddy, it's a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat. If you're a millionaire, it's no problem, you know, just build another one, you know? But me and Colleen, we kinda doing everything ourselves, you know? But then they come up with these, this thing in the paper with the green space, from Judge Perez all the way back to the...

INSKEEP: Hold on, hold on. You're talking about a proposal to tear down a bunch of houses and turn it into parkland?

Mr. BORDELON: That's what they're talking about.

INSKEEP: Would that include your house?

Mr. BORDELON: Includes my house too.

Ms. BORDELON: Right.

Mr. BORDELON: But we're trying our hardest to put our house back together, and they might tear it down. What you gonna do then? I don't want to leave St. Bernard. I love it down here. It's my home. I was born and raised there.

INSKEEP: Well, I tell you what we're going to do. We're going to make some phone calls about that and see if we can find out what's going on, okay?

Mr. BORDELON: That sounds like a winner.

INSKEEP: Can I just mention that St. Bernard Parish, where Donald and Colleen live, is a predominantly white parish. The Lower 9th Ward, were Ronald Lewis lives, is a predominantly black area. And because there has been so much distress over issues of race, it seems noteworthy that you all have seen each other's predicaments and you seem to have no trouble relating to one another at all.

Ms. BORDELON: Oh, I don't think there's a problem there. To me, I believe everybody ought to get along.

Mr. BORDELON: It'd be a lot better, buddy.

Mr. LEWIS: You know...

Mr. BORDELON: It really is.

Mr. LEWIS: ...I haven't met more people from the parish since I've been here in Tipperdale(ph), Louisiana, and one thing that connects all of us was Katrina.

INSKEEP: Well, Ronald Lewis of the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, thanks very much for speaking with us.

Mr. LEWIS: Yes, and I hope that in the near future, I can invite you, Steve, to my home and say, I told you so.

INSKEEP: I will accept.

Donald and Colleen Bordelon of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, it's great to speak with you too.

Mr. BORDELON: All right, buddy.

Ms. BORDELON: Thank you, Steve.

Mr. BORDELON: Mr. Ronald, it was nice talking to you.

Mr. LEWIS: Oh, same here.

Mr. BORDELON: I hope I get to see you one day, man.

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